Long Weekend

We had a lovely Easter holiday weekend with lots of activity to keep us moving.  We took Buddy to a dog park for the first time this weekend (he’s about 7 months old) and we were pleasantly surprised at how well behaved he was – no crazy barking or aggression, just happy puppy making friends and following the other dogs around.  We ended up going to 2 different parks over the holiday, and enjoyed both as the weather was fantastic with clear skies and highs in the upper 70s.

On Friday we got in the car and headed out to Austin to find bluebonnets, and found a beautiful patch off the beaten path when we were rerouted for traffic.  I haven’t taken pictures with bluebonnets since I was a little kid, and it was a great excuse for a road trip.  In Austin, we looked for paleo friendly restaurants and settled on Wholly Cow, a burger joint which features all grass-fed meats.  They have a burger called a Fit Cross which uses portobello mushrooms as the “buns” and features grilled onions and mustard.  I added avocado to mine, and it was very good.  We added a side of sweet potato fries to the burger and it was a satisfying, albeit messy meal.

On the way home we stopped in Giddings and visited a store called Blast from the Past which was really interesting and full of vintage clothing from a dozen different eras.  Just for fun, I dressed up in a flapper outfit, and not only did it fit, it looked really good.  I remember a time not so long ago when I hated trying on clothes, but now I find it to be wonderfully entertaining.

Saturday was spent cleaning and cooking and generally getting ready for the big meal on Sunday afternoon.  I wanted to do as much as I could to make the meal fully paleo-compliant, so that meant lots of extra steps and prep work.  I’ll post later today with the full Easter menu and share the reviews of each item.

 

 

Business Lunch

This is a great post from E.J. yesterday talking about how to deal with social situations where food options may be limited. I think in the grand scheme of things it’s about being mindful of your choices, and doing the best you can do under a given situation.

Paleo Marine

Today, my business partner and I went to lunch with a prospective client at a Chinese restaurant. I love Chinese food, but it is full of carbs and foods that I’m no longer willing to incorporate into my diet, so this presented a challenge. Rather than calling attention to my dietary needs in the face of a prospective client who moments before told us that he loved Chinese food, I rolled with it.

I decided to have the Mongolian Beef as it had beef, onions, shallots, green onion, and a “brown sauce.” The brown sauce likely had sugar and starch in it, but I figured it was the least bad food there for me. I didn’t touch the rice or the fortune cookie (THAT WAS HARD!) so I wasn’t as bad as I could have been, but the point is this: sometimes you can’t avoid having to eat foods that are not…

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Pot Roast

Ok, I’ll admit it.  I’ve just never been a big fan of pot roast.  I don’t know what it is about it, but while my mouth will water at the thought of a good meatloaf, or even pulled pork, I’ve never been a big fan of brisket or roasts.

After yesterday’s experience, I might have to become a new fan.

E.J. mentioned over the weekend that we haven’t had a roast yet during our paleo journey, and while I wasn’t exactly avoiding them, I wasn’t thrilled about trying one either.  There are plenty of paleo roast recipes online and in my cookbooks, so honestly it was hard to even choose a direction to go for the first try (as in, I don’t know that I’ve ever made a pot roast before, period, because I didn’t like them when I tried them elsewhere).

We decided to go with a cross between the recipe in Against All Grain and E.J.s favorite Hungarian cookbook and let it cook all day in the Crock Pot… like 11 hours.  The result was a super-tender, very flavorful roast and a lot of nice veggies from the broth to go with it.  We served it with mashed cauliflower whipped with butter and coconut milk which paired very nicely.

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We had prepped the meal the night before and were able to eat soon after I got home last night, so the prep and cleanup was super easy – perfect for a busy night or weekend where I don’t have time to be in the kitchen too long.

I think next time I want to try this Balsamic Pot Roast as I’m sure it would be really cook with a bit of a sweet kick.

Today’s Experiments

Well, it’s Sunday Cookday again, so I’ve spent most of the day in the kitchen again.  I started with a recipe from a new blog I found this weekend – Paleo Pot.  The band that I’m in with E.J. and our daughter, Gelli, is getting ready to start playing weekly on Sundays and I’m just not going to have the time in the kitchen I used to have, which means I need to find ways to start doing more in the smoker and slow cooker.

To start, I chose this Hungry Man Sweet Potato Casserole which looks really delicious, but I don’t know yet because it’s been cooking all day and will sit in the fridge all day tonight.  I did 1 lb beef and 1 lb pork and used Northwoods seasoning from Penzey’s.  I also used the rest of the bacon that E.J. made from scratch last week, so I can’t wait to try it tomorrow at lunch.

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I also made a pot of our favorite chili, a batch of paleo almond butter cups from Primal Palate, and this Orange Chipotle Shrimp with Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower rice.  All of these turned out fantastic.  The almond butter cups are really nice – not as sweet as Reece’s but a nice freezable treat that can be pulled out when the cravings really start hitting.  The Shrimp was not as spicy as I thought it would be, but along with a side of sauteed zucchini with tomatoes and chiles, it was quite tasty.  E.J. asked to add it to the regular rotation, so that’s a pretty nice endorsement.

 

Allergies

I’ve been a moderate to severe allergy sufferer all of my life.  When I was little, I was the kid who always had a stuffy nose, but I guess mom and I both chalked it up to kids passing germs around and generally being a kid.  It wasn’t until our cat passed away, and we went to visit a family member who had several that we realized how severe my allergy to cats is.  I remember on that visit, my entire face swelled up, I started sneezing uncontrollably, and couldn’t breathe well again for hours afterward.  We had to leave early because my reaction was so bad and I wasn’t prepared for it.  I think I was about 9 or 10 when that happened.

Since then, I have kept a respectful distance from cats whenever possible (except for that stint in college when my roommate sold me on this adorably cute kitten, for which I paid dearly).  And I always carry or take allergy medicine before I visit people with cats, just to be on the safe side.  Generally, these simple precautions have been enough to keep me clear – except for springtime (pine pollen, anyone?) and a week or so in the fall when the fronts blow through ragweed and other nasty things in the air.

Invariably, I have always suffered horrible nasal congestion in early March, both because of the pollens, and because I find the need to brave the outdoors for a few weekends to do yard work in the spring – cutting back overgrowth, weeding, trimming, and planting spring flowers and herbs.   I have always assumed that the discomfort and sleepless nights were a necessary evil for enjoying the outdoors this time of year….until this one.

I’m not sure exactly why, but after doing all of my annual trimming & planting, and even hanging out on patios with friends, I’m actually breathing pretty well this year without medication.  Yesterday I had a minor sniffle, for which I took Benedryl (which typically wouldn’t make a dent in my congestion. Normally I had to have pseudoephedrin or nasal spray to get any relief at all) and it cleared right up.

So what’s different?  There are really only 2 things I can point to that are happening this year.  One, I’ve lost 55 lbs (made it official this morning) and I know I’ve lost a lot of that weight in my face, which probably also translates to clearer nasal and sinus passages in general.  And two, I’ve added a whole lot of local raw honey to my diet as a part of our paleo eating.  Oddly enough, another allergy-related problem has also magically cleared up – my dry, scaly elbows.  I can’t remember a time in my adult life when I didn’t have rough elbows, and they were always worse in the spring and fall along with my other allergies.  They’ve both cleared up to the point that they only feel a little dry.

I know they “say” that honey fights allergies, but wow, I didn’t know it could practically eliminate them!  Yay for Paleo!

New Adventures

One of the big advantages to losing weight is that you have a lot more energy and confidence, which naturally lends one to do things they might not have otherwise done…

That would at least explain why I agreed to get in a car and drift around a race track with my son on Sunday.  Race cars are his passion, and he’s been working on this one now for a few months.  I wasn’t sure I was quite ready to ride with him, but I’m glad I did in the end.  It was really a lot of fun!

As a way to celebrate our new lease on life, E.J. and I have started putting together a bucket list – both one with local things here in Houston, and global adventures we’d like to take on someday.  I may not be able to experience them all, but I’d like to take a shot at it now that our kids are grown and we don’t yet have grand-kids to spoil.

Some of the things on my list:

  • Indoor Skydiving (I’m way too much of a chicken to try the real thing)
  • Dance Lessons
  • Parasailing
  • Hang Gliding
  • Kayaking
  • Zip-lining
  • Ride in a hot air balloon
  • Bouncing at a trampoline park
  • Whale watching

I’ve got a couple of these scoped out already, but I figure if I can arrange about one adventure a month, that would really help me knock things off the list.

What kind of adventures have you had that I really need to try?

Irish Paleo

So last Friday night, we held our annual St. Patty’s day ‘dinner and a movie’ party, where we enjoy traditional Irish foods and watch The Boondock Saints.   This is like the 10th year we’ve done it, and though the technology in the movie gets more and more ancient, we still love it, and pretty much quote along with it the whole time.

Every year, I make corned beef and cabbage, but for the last several, I’ve added another dish called a Dublin coddle, which is basically a baked casserole with sausage, bacon, potatoes, onions, and carrots.  While E.J. and I have been trying to avoid white potatoes as a general rule, they’re not exactly forbidden in a Paleo diet, so with the assurance of sugar and nitrate-free sausage from Bellville Meat Market, making the dish compliant was not a big deal.

The real stars of the show, however, were the Paleo Irish soda bread, courtesy of Elana’s Pantry and the Paleo Irish Mint Patties, from Delighted Momma.   I made 2 loaves of the soda bread, and only added a handful of raisins to make it more like the breads we have traditionally bought from the store.  The result was fantastic, and people couldn’t believe that there was no wheat flour in it.

For dessert, the Paleo Irish Mint Patties were also a hit, though I added coconut butter to the recipe to get more of a peppermint patty-like creme consistency for the inside.  It was just one more example of the many delicious things we CAN have with this new way of eating, and just reinforces what we’ve learned about Paleo:  It’s not about what you can’t have;  it’s about enjoying food in a different way.

One of our closest couple friends have started trying to eat Paleo starting after the Super Bowl, and he’s lost about 15 lbs and she’s lost a pant size.  It’s unbelievable what a difference removing empty carbs and refined sugar can make.